Truth Matters.

The Great Divide

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As Bethel’s need for space increases, possible solutions are being discussed.

Sarah Nelson | Staff Writer

The first sentence of Bethel’s value statement reads as follows: “Bethel University is a vibrant, Christ-centered educational community.” The campus’ concept of community revolves partially around the physical togetherness Bethel’s space provides — all academic buildings are connected via skyway and underground tunnel as well as all dormitories within walking distance. But when the Anderson Center, previously named Pine Tree Center, was purchased in 2013, questions regarding how the new building will assist with Bethel’s space needs began to surface.

Though Bethel will not own full capacity of the entire building until 2021, the Anderson Center immediately offers up to 700 parking spaces, and roughly 20,000 to 100,000 square feet. Decisions about how to incorporate this space are left to the Campus Master Plan 2.0 Committee, created in spring of 2014. The committee currently has yet to settle on one of a few scenarios for ways to deal with Bethel’s space needs on campus, particularly the acute space needs for the Biology and Chemistry departments.

“We under-serve students and faculty with the learning spaces we have,” President Jay Barnes said during a Faculty-Senate meeting on Wednesday, November 4.

A variety of scenarios have been presented to faculty and the community, but there is no indication as to which scenario will be used yet or which way administration is leaning.

Though usage of the Anderson Center is a less expensive option compared to building onto the current 3900 Bethel Drive campus, funding remains an issue. Once a scenario for the building is chosen, how to pay for the situation and who is moved to the new space becomes an issue.

“It’s a spacial and temporal jigsaw puzzle,” Barrett Fischer, a member of the Campus Master Plan 2.0 Committee said.

Fischer cited concerns of how Campus Master Plan 2.0’s solution will affect what we view as the Bethel community. Committee members want to assure if the move ensues, the 3900 campus and the Anderson Center are all part of Bethel, as opposed to a main campus and a satellite campus. Implications of class schedule, chapel and food services are also questions being raised. A shuttle system would be needed, as well as a revision of the ten minute passing time.

Not immune from the ultimate issue, Bethel’s need for greater physical facilities, are the CAPS-Graduate Studies and Seminary programs. Despite many critical questions remaining unanswered, including a timeline for a decision, Fischer and other committee members are confident as the next steps are taken.

“Bethel has a history of being adaptable,” Fischer said. “I really have a lot of faith that as a community we can come up with some good solutions that will be beneficial.”

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